Cervical screening inquiry to look into outsourcing to US labs

The inquiry into the cervical screening controversy that the Government is to set up on Tuesday will examine the outsourcing of services to laboratories in the United States.

It will also seek to establish the background to CervicalCheck’s failure to tell women what clinical audits of their screens had found and how much the HSE and Department of Health knew about this.

The inquiry, which is to be chaired by an independent health management expert from abroad, and to report to Minister for Health Simon Harris in June, will also talk to Vicky Phelan, whose legal case brought the controversy to public attention.

She settled a High Court action against a US laboratory used by CervicalCheck for €2.5 million at the end of April.

209 women affected

It subsequently emerged that 209 women had been affected by the screening scandal.

Mr Harris is expected to brief the Cabinet on Tuesday about his plans to mandate open disclosure for health service staff as part of new patient safety laws. It is understood he is hopeful the legislation could be introduced by the end of the year.

The Cabinet is also expected to discuss the re-establishment of a board to oversee the HSE and to consider the position of the HSE director general Tony O’Brien, who has faced calls to resign. He is due to leave his role at the start of July, a month earlier than expected.

On Monday night Mr O’Brien took issue with comments by the Minister of State at the Department of Health Jim Daly that he would step down from his post earlier than anticipated.

In a letter to the secretary general of the Department of Health Jim Breslin, Mr O’Brien maintained that the Minister’s remarks had been made with only “partial knowledge of discussions” that had been underway on the issue.

Mr O’Brien said Mr Daly’s comments on RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme on Sunday had led to speculation and suggestions that he would be leaving his post of HSE director general four weeks early.

Mr O’Brien maintained he always planned to take leave at the end of June. His contract runs until the end of July.

On the programme Mr Daly said that Mr O’Brien would be leaving at the start of July as he would be taking accumulated annual leave.

The Fianna Fáil front bench is expected to consider on Tuesday a motion of no confidence that Sinn Féin is seeking to table on Mr O’Brien.

Meanwhile, the HSE said 7,678 women who contacted the helpline since April 28th had asked to be called back and so far 2,686 of those calls have been returned.

Article source: https://www.irishtimes.com/news/ireland/irish-news/cervical-screening-inquiry-to-look-into-outsourcing-to-us-labs-1.3487128

Article source: http://roymogg.com/cervical-screening-inquiry-to-look-into-outsourcing-to-us-labs/